Recycling is very important today so we have listed down the recycling benefits people often neglect but haunts them after a disaster strikes.
We’ve all seen the PSAs, the after-school specials, and of course, the cartoons and movies of yesteryear urging us to recycle to protect the environment. Recycling is certainly a good idea and well worth pursuing. It lowers garbage levels, waste, and uses less energy than standard disposal.
You can recycle old items you don’t want anymore so that the raw materials can be reused without having to mine or cut down trees to make new copies. You also save space in landfills. Recycling, however, is important for some reasons that you may not realize when things are comfortable and running smoothly.
Society is Fragile
Our society is built on a very fragile bedrock of infrastructure. Garbage is taken away almost weekly or daily in high-traffic areas. Without a regular pickup, it leads to pestilence, sickness, and all manner of unsavory conditions. Should your local infrastructure suffer a collapse that prevents trash from being removed, you can quickly find yourself in unpleasant straits.
As mentioned, recycling benefits the environment mainly because of the conservation of resources. During times of disaster, either long-term or short-term, you may need all the resources you can get. Whether that happens to be metal, wood, cloth, or even plastic, recycling can make things easier and cleaner.
Everything in One Place
When you recycle, you typically put like items together: metal with metal, glass with glass, etc. By having like materials together, it can make it safer to navigate disaster areas. You don’t want to have to pick through discarded trash and cut your hand on a piece of broken glass. You would give yourself a nasty cut and infection in the process.
However, if everything is separated by material, you run much less risk of this happening. You can be sure that in a given container unless there was a windstorm that blew everything around, that things will remain relatively organized when you recycle.
Recycling Benefits : It Uses Less Energy Than Normal Disposal
Recycling uses less energy than regular trash disposal because of the decreased need for finding and processing raw materials. Mining is energy-intensive and destabilizes the ground beneath our feet, especially when done improperly.
Materials that can be recycled for energy saving can include
Glass, for instance, is made from sand and various other minerals. To make glass, you have to heat the sand to a high enough temperature to fuse it. However, if you already have glass from recycling, you can heat the glass enough to melt it, which takes less energy than creating it and make a new product out of it.
Metal in its raw form has to be mined as an ore, then smelted into ingots to remove impurities before using the metal to make products. However, if you already have metal, then you can melt it down and reforge it. Again, this uses less energy than the entire refining process.
Paper and wood are other materials that you should recycle. The more trees we cut down for wood and paper, the fewer trees are left. Deforestation has harmful, potentially irreversible effects on the environment. During a long-term disaster, you want as little damage done to the environment as possible so that things can soon get back to normal.
Paper mills, in particular, are notorious for their waste. The smell isn’t too pleasant either; if you’ve ever been near one, it isn’t something you forget. Using recycled wood and paper saves trees from being cut down and prevents paper mills from expelling harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. During a disaster, you should have plenty of access to clean air.
Less Wasted Space
Getting rid of trash only creates landfills, which are getting fuller as time goes on. Recycling benefits the environment by reducing the amount of space devoted to landfills. In extreme long-term survival scenarios, the space devoted to landfills could be devoted to gardens or other green areas.
Reducing Air Pollution
By not burning trash as happens normally, you reduce air pollution. A lot of our trash produces carbon dioxide, which contributes directly to climate change because it traps heat in the atmosphere. By recycling, you reduce the amount of trash being incinerated and therefore the amount of carbon dioxide released into the air. Decomposing trash can also produce methane.
Methane is another greenhouse gas, also produced by grazing livestock. Livestock produces more methane than any other source. The recycling benefits can literally save someone's life in a disaster.
Not only does reducing air pollution cut back on greenhouse gases, but it also makes purer air to breathe. We need a mix of nitrogen, oxygen, and trace elements. Greenhouse gases, as well as industrial waste byproducts, are often carcinogenic.
There are recycling benefits in a disaster. Fresh water may not be easy to come by; however, recycling can alleviate this problem in one of two ways: first, it makes it less likely that you’ll be drinking water polluted with industrial waste, and second, recycling water directly reduces the total amount that you use. If water is hard to get, you want to conserve as much of it as possible.
One way of recycling water is by saving water that you would normally use to cook. For example, when you cook pasta, don’t pour the water down the sink after you drain the pasta. Instead, save it to make soup later because the water will be more of a starchy solution that gives soup good texture.
You can also set up water butts outside to catch rainwater, but be warned that this is illegal in certain areas. It supposedly interferes with the hydrological cycle. However, you should always heat water to boiling before you drink it, especially if it’s rainwater. Although unlikely, the rain can carry particles of unsafe materials.
Although this is not always something you can do directly, waste water is perfectly safe to drink after treatment. Yes, that includes water that occupied the toilet. Of course, it requires filtration, processing, and sterilization, but the water that previously flowed through drain pipes into our sewage systems will eventually need to be recycled for drinking.
After all, every bit of water in our oceans, lakes, and rivers, as well as every droplet of water vapor in the atmosphere, once passed through a living creature, albeit millions of years ago.
One method you can help to recycle water in your home is by adding a so-called “grey-water filter” to your water system. This system takes water that was previously used and filters it into a tank, where the foreign particles are drawn out through reverse osmosis and other procedures. Then, you have clean water again.
There are recycling benefits for plants as well. Recycling food-related waste can also help you during a disaster - with prior preparation by creating a compost heap; you can make it easier for plants to grow. Compost is any type of plant material. On its own, compost is not fertilizer and shouldn’t be used as such. However, by adding nitrogen, you can increase the nutritional yield of the compost as you mix it.
When you compost, you need to have alternating layers of brown and green plant materials. These help to provide different nutrients and speed up the decomposition process more than if you just used one type of material. You should also chop the pieces into small chunks and allow plenty of air and heat to reach them. Decomposition-causing microbes thrive in heat.
During a long-term disaster scenario, you may need to grow food. If you’ve previously prepared your garden with compost and fertilizer, you will find that you generate a larger crop yield. You have to check your area for the best crops to grow in the soil, as well as what is in season. Otherwise, you may not get the best results.
These may not seem like an obvious recycling benefits, but it can help to bolster the local economy. By recycling, you’re effectively ensuring that raw materials are sourced from your area, lessening the costs of shipping. Most of the time, recycling facilities are located in the same state or only one state over. You don’t have to worry about materials being shipped from another country.
When materials and products are created domestically, you don’t have to price them lower to match another country’s exchange rate or currency, and can more easily ensure the prosperity of local workers and businesses. For this to be relevant, you would; of course, still need to have a functional economy. Large-scale or severe disasters might make this recycling benefit moot.
If you start recycling today and urge your lawmakers and communities to do the same, you can do your part to help keep the planet habitable. If a natural or man-made disaster strikes, living in a trash-strewn world will only make conditions worse than they are because of diseases, pollution, and lack of resources.
A clean Earth, however, is a habitable Earth. You get many recycling benefits by taking small steps each day and by petitioning your community to start a recycling initiative.